Thieves ready to steal cars left running in the cold

(WTNH)–As car technology gets better, theft is going down. That is, except in one category, when cars are left with their keys still in the ignition. As temperatures drop, people are starting their cars outside, and that’s inviting thieves.

“You have to think of a Plan B, because it’s going to be a really cold morning when you go out and there’s no car there,” said Amy Parmenter of AAA.

AAA says last year, thieves stole 44,000 cars with their keys in the ignition. It happened on Elmfield Street in West Hartford just last week. Roman Shea lives just up the block.

“I’ve been here since 1997, and it’s been a very safe neighborhood,” he said. But that’s the point–police say thieves cruise the streets, looking for running cars in areas where people feel safe enough to keep them running.

In West Hartford, Connecticut, they have a team of undercover officers that work throughout the night and into the early morning hours, catching car thieves. Still, they say there are things you can do to keep yourself from becoming a victim.

A remote, keyless starter allows you to warm up your car and leave it locked at the same time. There are also keyless technology systems.

If you don’t protect yourself, the repercussions can be far-reaching.

“It will probably bump up your premiums in the future, so it will hurt you right at that moment and probably hurt you down the line a little bit,” Parmenter said.

Some people believe that it is important to let your car warm up on really cold days, or it can damage your engine. But AAA says that’s not true with newer cars, as you can just start them up and drive away with no problem.

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